How We Discovered Chaos: Science with Kyle Retallick
Edward Norton Lorenz, a famous pioneer of chaos theory, simply stumbled upon a new field of mathematics that encountered heavy resistance within the community. Lorenz, as a meterologist, had computed a rather crude set of equations in an attempt to predict the weather. A popular version of the story is that he inputted the same numbers into the model, but with less decimal places. Instead of 2.66666667, it might’ve been 2.67. What Lorenz had assumed was that such an insignificant change would have no effect on the results. He was wrong.
The two graphs produced started out similar but soon diverged, to the point where they were so different to eachother you’d think that they never came out of the same model. Lorenz had ample opportunity to believe this to be a mistake on the part of the machine, he could even put it down to his rather crude attempt at emulating the weather with his equations. But Lorenz believed otherwise, he understood that he was on the verge of something that would shake up a world of determinstic effect.
Lorenz summed it up as so “Chaos: When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future. “